The recommended fibre intake for adult men is 30g daily, but most men only have around half that amount. You know it’s important for regularity, but fibre serves other purposes, too. Fibre helps to keep you regular, it fills you up, and certain fibres encourage the growth of ‘good’ bacteria in your digestive tract. But getting enough fibre can be tough. Many grains are refined, which means most of the fibre is stripped away. And there is often a lack high-fibre fruit and vegetables in men’s diets.
The fix: Eat fruit and vegetables for snacks, and add them to as many foods as you can – smoothies, sandwiches, salads, soups, stews, omelettes, etc. Try to “make half your grains whole.” Rather than refined grains, choose whole grain products such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, barley and 100% whole grain breads, cereals, crackers, rice and pasta.
Magnesium isn’t a mineral we think about much, but it contributes to literally hundreds of bodily functions. Magnesium helps your cells to produce energy. And most of the magnesium in your body is found in your bones, so it also helps keep your skeleton healthy. Magnesium is abundant in plant foods like in leafy vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains. But our reliance on refined foods has stripped much of the magnesium out of our diet.
The fix: Try a handful of nuts or roasted soybeans for a snack. Toss some beans into a leafy green salad or work more whole grains into your diet. Opt for whole grain versions of bread, cereal, crackers and pasta. And switch from white rice to brown, regular pasta to whole grain.
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and teeth, due to its role in assisting with the absorption of two key minerals – calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D is also needed for proper muscle function and supports the activity of the immune system. One reason is that vitamin D is found naturally in just a few foods: fatty fish, egg yolks and liver. Dairy products are often fortified with vitamin D, but many men don’t consume sufficient amounts to meet needs. Your body can manufacture vitamin D: it’s made under the skin when it’s exposed to sufficient sunlight.
The fix: Incorporate more vitamin D-fortified dairy products (milk, yogurt, cottage cheese) into your day. Eat a couple of fish meals a week, spend a bit more time outdoors and consider a vitamin D supplement.
Potassium is such an important mineral. It supports the function of nerves and muscles, helps regulate blood pressure and helps us get energy from our food. All muscles require potassium in order to properly contract. But the foods with the most potassium – fruit, vegetables, beans and dairy products – don’t make it to the plate as often as they should.
The fix: Include a potassium-rich fruit or vegetable at every meal, particularly rich sources include tomatoes, bananas, beans, melons, avocados and strawberries. A serving or two of dairy can do double-duty. Not only is dairy a good source of potassium, but it can help you meet your needs for vitamin D, too.
By SUSAN BOWERMAN
MS, RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND,
Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training, Herbalife Nutrition.